Struggling to find things to do during the summer holidays? Don’t worry you’re not the only one.
In fact, a survey of 2000 parents conducted by Drayton Manor unearthed 1 in 5 parents feel the summer months are the most stressful time of year.
With 93% of parents wishing there was more to do during the summer holidays, particularly with the whole family (34%).
It’s no wonder 36% of parents feel guilty not having daily activities planned.
So I’m sharing some fun outdoor and indoor activities, plus some places to visit that all the family can enjoy.
We love spending time outdoors, and not just because it gives up fresh air and exercise (although they're great reasons too).
It provides excellent learning opportunities, from maths, literacy, expressive arts, emotional regulation, turn-taking, communication and language, and more.
So here are 10 outdoor activities you can do with your children.
1. Chalk fun. Use chalk to create fun games, and get creative in your garden. My son enjoys hop-scotch, so we draw a hop-scotch on our patio.
He helps draw the numbers in the boxes (which is great for his fine motor skills, and number recognition), and practices his jumps (gross motor skills).
2. Medal making. Use some paper plates, scissors, pens, pencils, paint, glitter, or whatever you have laying around, to make medals for your obstacle course (see next activity).
Use a paper clip to attach to clothing, but be careful not to poke a hole in your clothes!
3. Obstacle course. Chalk is also great for creating obstacle courses. My children love a new challenge, and it’s something all the family can get involved in.
Write and draw commands on your patio floor, so the younger ones can join in too.
Our favourites include; spin, hop, jump, roll, run, star jumps, balance on one foot, and touch your toes.
Add new challenges by including your children’s garden toys to change it up a bit.
Time each other and encouraging the children to beat their own scores. At the end, give each participant a medal, which they made earlier, as a prize for their efforts.
Make it interesting for the adults, have the loser wash the dishes.
If you don’t have a garden you can use the chalk at the park, just pour some water over it when you’ve finished.
4. Grid Fun. Keeping with the chalk theme, draw a grid on the patio. Start on any square and have the child follow your directions; one step left, two jumps forwards, one step right, hop backwards. You get the idea.
5. Make a natural collage. Send your children on a treasure hunt to find some natural resources outside.
Then make a collage using what they've found. You can add leaves, twigs, grass, flowers, bark, leaf rubbings and more.
6. Painting. Get out your paints, brushes, and paper for a creative day of painting.
If you’re not big on mess, but want you children to have some creative fun, why not get out some paint brushes, and a plastic (for safety) bowl of water.
Then they can paint the shed and fence to their hearts content. Then take a picture of their creations to keep!
7. Visit the Park. Why not visit your local park? Take a picnic, blanket and a few games along with you to change things up a bit. My children like to take bubbles, a ball and, some paper and crayons; to do rubbings against tree barks and leaves.
The outdoors offers lots of learning opportunities for children. Come rain or shine, my brood love being outdoors. Check out this excellent list by The National Trusts of, ‘Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50-things-to-do
There are 6 parks within a 15 minute drive of me, 4 of them within walking distance. Each park has different play sets, and a different feel. So change it up a bit. That way it’s not so repetitive.
8. Go for a bicycle ride. Riding to town or to your local park is great fun and the exercise will do you good. Don’t forget to wear your helmet and pump up your tyres.
9. Create story sacks. We have ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ book, with a crocheted caterpillar, butterfly, leaf, and all the fruit described in the book. We use the crochet fruit to teach my daughter additional vocabulary, and to count, add and minus with my son.
You can use the outdoors to make the story more real. For instance you can recreate the brilliant book, 'We're going on a bear hunt', with a walk through your local park, forest, or even in the garden!
10. Ball games. From catch, and piggy in the middle, to rolling the ball back, and forth with your baby; there’s lots to fun to be had with a ball.
You could even invite your children's friends to join in with a game of football.
Scavenger Hunt. Draw a map and hide things in your garden for the children to discover, or hunt for natural treasures. Then have your children design their own maps.
Let’s face it, although we love jumping in muddy puddles, sometimes you just don’t feel like venturing out.
So here’s a list of 10 indoor activities to use when you’ve run out of ideas.
1. Board games. I confess I’m pretty old school. I love a game of monopoly, twister or backgammon.
It’s a great way for the family to spend time together, plus children learn to follow rules and take turns. The smaller ones can partner up with an adult.
2. Card games. I know it seems to be a dying art, but card games around a table with some fruit snacks are always a winner in my book.
This is more for the older children, but it’s never too early for children to learn. Plus it’ll help with number recognition with the smaller ones!
3. Baking. Making a cake is relatively easy. You’ll need some flour, butter, milk, eggs and baking powder. Alter the ingredients if your child has any allergies or an intolerance.
4. Biscuit decorating. Some icing sugar, food colouring, sprinkles, and a variety to sweets can lead to endless creative fun.
5. Paint bag. Put the paint in a zip-lock bag, and tape closed to be sure the paint doesn’t seep out. Use a finger or cotton bud to draw numbers and letters, like the activity above.
6. Colander Fun. This one is great for babies and toddlers. Get a pack of colourful pipe cleaners and thread them through the colander. My daughter loves this game!
8. Hide and seek. This is a firm favourite in our house. My son hides and my daughter toddles off to find him. I have to give it to her, she’s a good seeker.
9. Haircuts. Using finished kitchen rolls, snip long lines all the way around the roll using scissors to make the hair for this activity.
Then draw on eyes, a nose and a mouth (or have your children do this), and let them snip the hair. You’re kids will be professional hairdressers in no time!
10. Rainbow writing tray. Use a clean oven tray, tape a picture of different coloured stripes on to the tray with sticky tape, and add salt.
Draw letters, number, names, shapes and talk to your about the colours and letters they see.
Watch a film. Why not pop some popcorn, and snuggle on the sofa to watch your family’s favourite film.
Imaginative play. My kids, and the children I work with in the nursery, love playing with dolls, kitchen play sets, blankets and small world toys. It's great for communication and language development, and for understanding the world.
PLACES TO VISIT
If you fancy a trip out with your brood, why not try these?
1. Wimpole Estate. With a Working farm, adventure playground, walled gardens, picnic area and hall, Wimpole Estate has something for all the family.
If you haven’t already, check out my review of Wimpole Home Farm, and gardens, click here.
2. Swimming. Why not head to your local community pool or beach? With summer hitting record temperatures, a family swim can be lots of fun.
Remember to be safe. Check the flags on the beaches, and swim where lifeguards are present.
Be sure to follow pool, and beach rules such as no diving, and do not use inflatable’s in the sea.
3. The Zoo. Children love animals, so why not check out your local zoo?
4. Bowling. An old favourite that requires skills, or in my case, the bumpers put up (shhh don’t tell anyone!)
5. Cinema. There’s nothing quite like watching a film at the cinema. The smell of freshly popped popcorn always gets me excited (not like that!) before a viewing.
Plus so many cinemas have upgraded to Luxury status that the experience is that little more exhilarating.
6. The Natural History Museum. Does your little one like dinosaurs? Then The Natural History Museum is a great place to visit with your children.
With a variety of dinosaurs on display and a fantastic range of historical artefacts, it’s well worth a visit. Check out their website for further details.
7. The Science Museum. A great place to visit with children, they have a variety of different exhibits, from space to materials.
For younger children there is The Garden located downstairs.
It’s an indoor play area which includes; water-play area, puppet show theatre, and additional activities.
They also have their WONDERLAB: THE EQUINOR which has a variety of miraculous experiences for your older children.
Click here for more information.
8. Discover the UK. The National Trust have an extensive list of places you can visit with you family; from halls and farms, to beaches and forests. It’s well worth a look.
9. Mini golf. A fun activity for all ages, children learn hand-eye co-ordination skills while having a blast.
10. Go Ape. A fun, and challenging outdoor adventure for families with older children.
The Library. Most libraries have a reading challenge on during the summer holidays. It's a great way to get your children excited about reading.
So there you have it, some fun activities, and places to visit to help get your family through the holidays.
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